We rely on your reports of any natural or wildlife related items of interest.
Please pass your reports to Iain or John. See our Contacts page for details.

Latest News

If you wish to join our club (and new members are very welcome) you can now download an application form from here. The form is in Microsoft Word format so should be readily viewable. The forms will also be available per the usual outlets.

Jock's well loved presentation "Birds of our Rivers, Hills & Moors" is now available on DVD, for the modest price of £5.00, from our local 'paper shop' (A M Grieves, Newsagents) on the High Street. If you cannot get one there, please contact John per our 'Contacts' page and we can get one to you. The running time is approximately 86 minutes and is a great historical record of the local birdlife as it was in 1973 and has some tremendous photographs. Profits go to the club funds and we are grateful to Jock for his permission to produce it (and to forego his 'cut'!). We also have some club badges and car window stickers remaining - ask in the 'paper shop'.


Clicking on an image on our pages will give normally give an enlarged version (maximum 640 x 480 pixels approximately). Higher resolution images may be available on request (subject to the copyright holder's agreement) - contact John for details.


10th August 2015
So where were you all? Our 'Open Day' on Saturday was very poorly attended even though weather was ideal for a day out. Very disappointing, to say the least.
Our moth trapping, under the guidance of Peter Norman, went quite well with a reasonable number recorded. Some of these may be 'first's' for the reserve but we will know once we compare lists and will update accordingly. There was one small bonus - while wandering through the 'meadow' at the Community Reserve looking for potential sites for the moth traps, we did come across a small number of orchids scattered around, probably Heath Spotted Orchids but we have no formal identification. Nice to see them though. Peter also drew our attention to a fungus, bright purple, called 'amethyst deceiver' which was one we hadn't seen before plus he identified a few of the more common ones. We would appreciate anyone with a decent (not necessarily expert) knowledge of wildflowers and fungii to come and identify whatever they can find as none of us really know many at all!
Pond dipping by Andy Riches produced good numbers of the 'usual culprits' - lots of newtlets (Palmate ones), larvae of various damsel flies, dragonflies, hawkers and chasers, plenty of water boatmen, back-swimmers, pond skaters and a leech. All very indicative of a very healthy pond which is good to know.
Our thanks to Peter and Andy for their participation, also to Karen who, alas, had little trade for her face painting!

4th August 2015
Very little to report about bird sightings at the moment. It has been another bad year for our Mallard, only one brood seen but, alas, it seems none have survived. Moorhen, though, seem to have done quite well. Garden birds (Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Sparrows,Tits, etc) all seem to have done very well with numerous young birds out and about. Our Swifts will be setting off for their winter holidays in the sun about now. Swallows and Martins will also be on their way soon. On a more cheerful note, bumblebees are making the most of the blossom on John's hypericum bush with around twenty White-tailed Bumblebees working away most of the time and two Tree Bumblebees have also been seen regularly.

7th July 2015
Further to our mystery plant (24th June), have received two emails over the weekend, one from someone identified only as 'Andy J', the other from Eileen Hayes. Both suggest the plant is Ajuga reptans (Bugle). This was a single plant, nothing similar to be seen, and bears no great resemblence to what we normally call 'Bugle' (with its deep red/purple flowers) that is quite prolific in the area. However, we much appreciate the probable identity. Thanks to you both.
On another note, where have our Sandmartins gone? There was great activity earlier with a lot of very active nest holes in the bank. We would have expected them to be still there, probably looking at a second brood. But they have all vanished, not even any flying around. In similar vein, a pair of House Martins was busy nesting near John's house and appear to done a similar vanishing act without raising a brood. There also seems to be less Swallows than usual. What's going on?

Last Tuesday there were a dozen or so Mallard ducklings down at our reserve but by Saturday we could only see four, possibly five. The mortality rate is serious, whether by predation or due to the rain (ducklings are NOT waterproof, if they get wet by rain then they will die of the cold).

1st July 2015
It gives us great sadness to inform you that Scott Little, a greatly valued member of our commitee, passed away yesterday. Funeral will be on Friday, 3rd July. Scott was a stalwart of our 'work squad' and his practical approach to our work was a wonderful asset. Never short to crack a joke or to do a bit of teasing, his passing is a great loss to all.

24th June 2015
We are pleased to announce that our Mute Swans have successfully produced two cygnets.

Now can any of you botanists out there identify this orchid-like plant that we found on our reserve today? Not one we have seen before. Very pretty and, yes, it really is blue. Click for a bigger image. Answers to John, please.

18th June 2015
A couple of unusual sightings by Dave Bradshaw -"I had a garden warbler calling and flying back and forward in the trees in Beechgrove Centre car park/Hope Johnstone 7pm on 16th. On 17th at 13.10, Red kite circling over the hillside bottom of the Cooked Road for about 4 mnutes, watched from our front window".
And three pictures from Dave - the first is a male Pied Flycatcher, photographed at our reserve, the second a male Redstart photographed in Bankend Wood and the third of a Tree Pipit photographed at Earshaigs.

15th June 2015
Our program schedule for next season is now ready. Note that we will be starting a week earlier than usual, our first meeting is on 4th September. You can see the full list on our "Events" page.

Graeme Stephen photographed this male Pied Flycatcher down at our reserve recently. This is the first record of one there for about 10 years! Has been heard calling regularly for the past two weeks. By the slightly brownish(rather than full black) colouring, this could be a 'yearling' male bird.

1st June 2015
Latest late-April/May report from Iain -
Colin Brydon came upon three Dotterel on Swatte Fell while out walking on the 18th April. While out delivering newspapers on the morning of the 21st a skein of 40 Pink Footed Geese flew over and 6 Canada Geese and 2 Cormorants were also seen. A Common Sandpiper was reported from the Community Reserve the following day with two Blackcaps on our Reserve. Scott and Janet Little reported seeing a number of Wheatear up the Crooked Road. Sandra Wilson reported a male Redstart at Newbank Farm on the 25th. While out carrying out the National Rook Survey on the 27th, I saw a Grey Squirrel in Torthorwald Wood and earlier in the day while coming back from Dumfries I saw a tagged Red Kite near Ae Village. Nicola Bowden saw three Roe Deer in Park Circle/Fingland Court area on the 28th which she photographed on her phone and, while out at night counting more Rooks, the cold snowy weather in the local hills resulted in over 60 Meadow Pipits at Auldton with well over 300 Meadow Pipits on Hunterheck Hill presumably because of the wintry conditions. While out on a day trip with Lorna on the 4th May, we saw a Hooded Crow at Kirkudbright and had fantastic overhead views of a Red Kite at Stroan Loch near Mossdale. A Grasshopper Warbler called at the Reserve on the 6th May while a pair of Mute Swans began building a nest. Osprey sightings are fairly regular with the local breeding pair and one was watched by myself, John Smith and Doug Shilton over The Green Frog on the 9th. Garry had a male Pied Flycatcher at Three Waters on the 12th and Spotted Flycatchers were back at the Reserve the following day while four 7-spotted Ladybirds were seen while clearing weeds from some of our planted trees in the Orchard area. Two Grey Squirrels were reported from the Auchen Castle area though a good few Red Squirrels were also reported in the area. Earlier in the morning an impressive flock of over 40 Canada Geese flew over Moffat. While down at the Reserve on the evening of the 14th with Lorna, we saw a male Pied Flycatcher while four Whooper Swans were on the lochan on the Community Reserve. Garry reported a male Redstart at Toot Corner on the 15th with two singing male Pied Flycatcher at the Reserve on the 16th which will hopefully nest for the first time in at least 10 years. The first two Cuckoos and only ones so far were reported from Lochwood Oaks. Two Hedgehogs were seen by Sandra Watson at Frenchlands Drive on the 19th while my dad saw one near the Coop the same day. A House Sparrow with lots of white was reported in the Haywood Road area on the 22nd. While checking the nest boxes at the Reserve on the 27th the following birds were recorded, with more likely to use nest boxes if the weather improves - 11 pair of Great Tits, 14 pairs of Blue Tits, 2 pair of Nuthatch, 1 pair of House Sparrow, 1 pair of Blackbird, 6 pairs of Starling, 4 pair of Stock Doves and a pair of Tawny Owl.....40 in total which is good. A Peregrine flew over the Reserve with prey while being mobbed by Swallows and crows. Garry watched a male Hobby in the Barnhill area on the 29th May.

John's latest Italy visit report is now being typed up and will be posted in the near future.

3rd May 2015
Our Coffee Morning yesterday raised a total of £1501. This will all go to good use in maintaining and improving our Dyke Farm Nature Reserve. Our thanks go to all who helped out by working on the stalls and behind the scenes in the kitchen, also to all who generously donated items for the stalls. We also thank everyone who attended and spent their hard-earned money in supporting the Wildlife Club.

18th April 2015
At a recent 'club night', Jock mentioned Tree Bumblebees and suggested we keep a look out for them. John picked up a dead one in Star Street this afternoon. Common in Europe, it was first recorded in the UK in 2001, it has been spreading steadily northwards and reached Scotland in 2013, particularly along the eastern coast areas. Still something of a rarity in our area.
(Added later). May not be such a rarity after all! In evening, a few 'bummers' working the flowering cherry in front of John's house. On closer inspection, at least two (one quite large, one small) were also Tree Bumblebees. Another, initially dismissed as just being one of our very common White-tailed Bumbles, actually turned out to be a Buff-tailed one (needs a good view to tell the differenece), not all that common but we do do see them now and then.

John also saw a male Blackcap in his garden yesterday. Jock apparently saw one earlier in the week.

Down at the reserve this morning, some 25-30 Sandmartins are flying around and exploring the holes in our Sandmartin bank.

12th April 2015
Dave Bradshaw reports Chiffchaff calling in wood above Beechgrove on Thursday and a Swallow over the Sports Barn carpark. And, on Friday, Margie saw 4 Swallows over the Beattock/Evan Water bridge.

10th April 2015
First butterfly of the year in John's garden today - a Peacock.

6th April 2915
Dave Bradshaw reports that he and Margie heard a Yellowhammer on Saturday near Station Park carpark. This is the first Yellowhammer report for many, many years! Also heard Chiffchaff in same general area.

Also on Saturday, Iain counted over 1200 Pinkfoot Geese passing northwards during his paper round. And down at the reserve, two Goosander and two Teal were on the main pond.

From Peter Ball - "thought I heard whoopers calling about 11pm last night so I got up early this morning and found a couple of them on the MDCNR Wader Scrape about 7am. One with immature plumage."

Yesterday, John had a walk round our reserve and noted almost every ditch had a few frogs in it. The big ditch had very high numbers, estimated at 40 or more over only part of it! Two more frogs seen in the Woodland Pond and half a dozen or so in the Middle Pond. Pleased to see quite a few Sticklebacks active in the big ditch again following its excavation.

31st March 2015
From John - was sitting in front of my computer when a spider came abseilling down past my nose. Grabbed the magnifying glass and chased it around the desk while noting its appearance as it was a type I'd not seen before. Got a container to hold it to try for a photo but, sure enough, in those few seconds it had escaped somewhere! However, after much browsing of spider info, I finally got the answer. It was a Steatoda bipunctata, one of the false widow spiders, commonly known as a 'rabbit hutch spider' as often found there. Apparently quite common throughout the UK yet first time I've come across one.

26th March 2015
Signs of spring! Chiffchaff heard calling down at our reserve yesterday morning.

22nd March 2015
A message from Jean (Hoppertitty):
"Thought I'd send you this pic of frogs yesterday. Counted 22 at one point in our pond - plenty of croaking and interestingly the copious spawn has been deposited in a much deeper part of the pond this year.
Saw first bumblebee of this year briefly yesterday too.
Lovely to see a bit of sunshine."
(Photo has been cropped to fit the page better!)

Frogs are also active down at the reserve now with a fair number on the Woodland Pond yesterday though none evident on the other ponds as yet.

Further on what triggers activity, a source giving lots of info about frogs and toads states that activity normally starts when the nighttime temperature reaches approximately FIVE degrees over a few nights but can be occur when THREE degrees is reached, especially when rain is expected. A further source informs us that his frog activity always seems to occur at the first full moon after the latter part of February! John's frogs seem to have retired after two weeks - night camera now showing only the odd one or two - but still no explanation on why active only at night this year, never in the daylight.

13th March 2015
A couple of recent reports for you.
The first from Ken Hines, Smith Way,Beattock
" It's been a rather unusual year with little bird activity other than the regulars, chaffinch, house sparrow and starling. However the last week to 10 days has seen a sudden influx of assorted birds, approx 30 siskins, a similar number of goldfinches, 2 reed buntings, 2 lesser redpolls and great spotted wood pecker. All this despite same food being available all winter, no idea why the sudden change."

The second is from Iain with various sightings -
Peter Ball saw and photographed a wader on the raft on the Community Reserve lochan with a group of 15 or so Oystercatchers on Tuesday 10th March. After having sent photographs to various people and myself and Garry seeing the bird on the Wednesday/Thursday it has turned out to be a female Black Tailed Godwit......which is a great sighting and to the best of my knowledge a first for the Moffat/Beattock area. Also at the Community Reserve on the Thursday were 31 Whooper Swans, 3 Mute Swans, 4 female Goosander, 2 Little Grebe, 1 Cormorant and the odd Curlew. While last Saturday on the newest dug out pond on the Meadow were a family of 6 Whooper Swans with 3 Curlew passing overhead. Michael Currie reported seeing the female Peregrine over Moffat for the first time this year today.

And from Ron Lewis-Smith on the subject of frogs -
"Regarding the latest news item about the lack of frog (and toad?) activity is most likely because of their sensitivity to temperature. Typically, at this time of the year, as soon as the night air temperature reaches around 10 degC they suddenly appear in their hoards making for their spawning ponds. I guess we haven't experienced that so far, whereas we did by this time last year."
Very informative, but temperatures in Moffat are still a long way below 10 degrees at night and John's frogs have been busy during nightime but absent in the day, quite a bit of spawn in the pond and there are still a fair few frogs active at night. Looks like there must be another explanation somewhere.

11th March 2015
Surprisingly, few reports so far of frog activity. However, the pond in John's garden has seen quite a bit over the past week or so and there is a good quantity of spawn now. Oddly, all activity has been during the hours of darkness with probably 50 or more present. My night camera shows frogs in plenty from about mid-evening to around 5.00am when they start to vanish and by full daylight there is only an occasional frog to be seen. In previous years, activity has been going on both day and night. Anyone got any idea why the change this year?

5th March 2015
(Removed, no longer relevant)

3rd March 2015
From Ron Lewis-Smith -
At last seen my first brambling this winter - in fact a tight flock of at least 200 on the ground and in large oak and beech trees on the Alton Motte, and vicinity, from c. 10-10.30 am today during flurries of snow.

This is by far the biggest sighting we have heard of this season!

24th February 2015 - A change of program for the March meeting
Our scheduled speaker has unfortunately had to cancel. However, all is not lost as Bobby Smith has stepped into the breach. Although we don't have his topic yet, it will no doubt be just as interesting as his previous presentations. See you there!

20th February 2015
Have just received two annual reports from Andy Riches. The first is for Castle Loch & Hightae LNRs 2014. The second is the County Mammal Report for 2014.
Andy adds the following comment regarding the latter -
" You will have noticed that the Roe Deer distribution map for 2014 shows a substantial reduction in distribution from that of 2013. This is almost certainly not a true reduction in distribution but a lack of records. It is crucial to remember that the maps reflect records received and there may well be areas and species that are heavily under recorded. Under recording is a particular problem with common species such as the Roe Deer or the Rabbit.
Now you know what I am looking for to include in the 2015 report! "

9th February 2015 - European Tree of the Year
We have a message from Jonathan Pinnick, one of the team that works for the Scottish Wildlife Trust at Loch of the Lowes -

I am part of the small team that works for the Scottish Wildlife Trust at Loch of the Lowes, home to “Lady’s Tree” which was named Scottish Tree of the Year back in October, just ahead of your Gowk Tree – another very worthy contender.
As you may be aware voting opened this week for European Tree of the Year for 2015 with “Lady’s Tree” representing Scotland. Competition between the 14 countries represented has been fierce so far and we currently trail the leading contenders by some thousands of votes.
Therefore I am writing to ask whether you would be able to encourage your members to vote in support of “Lady’s Tree”.

There is no postal vote this time, only on-line. The following link will take you to the entry page.
http://www.treeoftheyear.org/Letosni-rocnik/Strom-Damy.aspx?lang=en-US
The entry form is on the right of the page, you may have to scroll over to see it..

6th February 2015
Latest update from Iain -
Very little to report from the start of the year. Local shooters reported seeing very few Woodcock in our area but lots of Wood Pigeon feeding on Beech mast. Very few winter birds around such as Redwing, Fieldfare, Brambling and Waxwing. A lack of Tawny Owls being heard? Anybody heard a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker? Only sightings I have are a Golden Eagle over Moffat on the 13th and a flock of 42 Brambling at Millhousebridge from Garry Tait. At the Community Reserve lochan on the 14th were 5 Mute Swan and a Pink Footed Goose. Garry saw three Black Grouse near Tweedshaws on the 16th. Hopefully the remainder of Winter and the return of Spring will bring some more wildlife sightings.
And some reports from Dave Bradshaw -
18/01/15 - 1 Brambling with Chaffinch Beattock country park, still 1 juv Mute Swan on lake with 2 Adults. They seem to have distanced themselves from it. Other 7 have left. 2 Bullfinches outside in trees by railway bridge.
21/01/15 - Leadhills road 2 female Kestrels, 1 Red Grouse.
28/01/15 - Siskin numbers are building up here in Cornal Court, usually peak late March, early April. There has been a flock of about 15 Goldfinches since before Xmas. This morning 3 Bullfinches on the trees dropping on to the grass alongside the garages to feed. Also a Treecreeper. My feeder and gardent his morning at one time had 13 Goldfinch, 5 Siskin, 5 House Sparrow and 8 Chaffinch. At the reserve yesterday a pair of Mute swan. 2 Dippers at Beattock bridge, 1 at Station Park bridge. 170 Pinkfeet over the co op.
And John adds - was complaining to Iain on Wednesday that hadn't heard any Tawnies for months only to hear one calling that evening! Blue Tits are scouting nest boxes and House Sparrows inspecting the spaces under roof edges around Greenwood Close so spring must be on its way.

7th January 2015
Here we are with another year and with little to report! Our usual winter visitors have been few and far between this season, a few small flocks of Redwing, likewise of Fieldfare, only an occasional sighting of Brambling and no further reports of Waxwing since November. It looks like most of us have has a distinct drop in the number of birds coming into our gardens, they must still be finding plenty of 'natural' food and prefer that to our offerings. Numbers have gone up on the few hard days we've had, only to drop off again as soon as the frosts have lifted. There is no cause for concern, the bird population is as healthy as it ever was. John's garden is renowned for the lack of birds in wet weather and last week saw a record low - Blackbird and Chaffinch only and only a few of each - offset by a more normal 6-8 types of bird in much greater numbers the following day.

Two bits of information from elsewhere. The first is from Any Riches -

"This is to let you know that Scottish Badgers will be running a Level 1 Registered Badger Worker Course in Dumfries & Galloway this autumn.
The purpose of the Registered Badger Worker Training Scheme is to build a network of surveyors certified as competent to undertake specific tasks as identified by Scottish Badgers. Inclusion on the Register is a nationally recognised qualification.
The course costs £120.00 which includes a comprehensive training manual, classroom and field-based training, personal tutoring, assessment fees and completion certificate.
Full details of the course and an application form are attached but if you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me."
(We haven't been able to put the details/application form on-line but, if you contact John, we can forward it on request or put you in touch with Andy.)

The second is from Neighbourhood Watch regarding a scam -

Sky Television and Broadband Phone Scam
We've had recent reports of scammers phoning pretending to be from Sky Television and Broadband so please make sure friends and family are aware. Sky have confirmed that this is not a genuine call.
The scammers attempt to appear authentic by asking for you by name and stating that "our information" shows you pay by direct debit. The scam involves claiming that your Sky viewing card is about to expire and that they need some information in order to send you a new one. They then proceed to ask for your sort code before then asking for the last four digits of your account number. Like many scammers they may get pushy when not given this information.
This call is then followed up by a second call where they claim you have overpaid and that they wish to refund you. It is at this point that they ask for the rest of your bank details.
A Sky Spokesperson said
"We would never contact a customer to request payment over the phone for a replacement viewing card.
If you are due a credit on your account it’s very unusual for us to ask for your bank details over the phone, if you are suspicious at all please hang up and call us on 03442 414141. "
If you've received this scam call or a similar one and given over account details you should contact your bank immediately. If you received such a call and didn't give over details, it would be helpful if you could report the incident to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
The reason these scams work is that they contact thousands of people and so, purely by coincidence, a few of these people will not only have a Sky account but may have recently completed a transaction with Sky and so will be expecting such a call.
If you receive this or another suspicious phone call...
• Remember, you do not have to get into discussions over the phone with anyone, and never give out any personal information, such as bank or credit card details. These could be used fraudulently.
• Keep your business, your business. Just say "No thank you, I am not interested" and hang up straight away.
• To find out more about True Call the call blocking device tested by Trading Standards, which stops 99% of nuisance calls visit http://www.truecall.co.uk
Also remember ... No genuine lottery or competition would ask you to buy goods or send money to claim a prize!

 

All entries for 2014 have been archived. View by clicking here or on menu at left.